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Video games are always getting a bad rap, but just as many studies have been done that say they have positive side effects as negative. Trace did a round-up of the most-recent research regarding video games' effect on the brain in this episode of DNews last month, in fact. The one thing we can say conclusively about all these on-going studies is that video games seem to affect how our brain works and develops; whether these changes are good, bad, or both will likely be a subject of debate for many years to come.
For some people, a lack of neuronal regulation can cause nerve activity to seem to "sync up" and cause a seizure to occur. Seizures have been described as a "storm of brain activity", where a bunch of circuits fire together rhythmically. In people diagnosed with epilepsy, seizures tend to recur, and while neurologist are unsure of the underlying cause of the disorder, some seizures can occur due to a specific cause. Certain types of repetitive stimuli can cause the onset of seizures, and in some cases, pulsing light and flashes--like those found in video games--can cause "photosensitive" seizures. There were two incidents where patterns in T.V. shows broadcast in England and Japan caused a rash of seizures in children. The patterns and frequencies that can cause photosensitive seizures vary, but having a photosensitive seizure is not enough for a diagnosis of epilepsy. So, even though they can cause seizures, to say that video games cause epilepsy is misleading.
Japanese cartoon triggers seizures in hundreds of children (CNN)"The bright flashing lights of a popular TV cartoon became a serious matter Tuesday evening, when they triggered seizures in hundreds of Japanese children."
Photic- and Pattern-induced Seizures: A Review for the Epilepsy Foundation of America Working Group (Wiley Online Library)
"This report summarizes background material presented to a consensus conference on visually provoked seizures, convened by the Epilepsy Foundation of America."
Photosensitive Epilepsy and Image Safety (Researchgate.net)
"Photosensitive epilepsy came to prominence in the 1950s with the advent of television."
Photosensitivity and Seizures (Epilepsy.com)
"For about 3 percent of people with epilepsy, exposure to flashing lights at certain intensities or to certain visual patterns can trigger seizures. This condition is known as photosensitive epilepsy."
Cognitive effects of seizures (Sciencedirect.com)
"We aimed to review recent prospective and cross-sectional studies regarding the gradual and chronic effects of (cumulative) seizures on cognition."